Man on drink-driving charge passes out drunk in court

The man spent a night in the cells to 'sleep things off'. Photo / File
The man spent a night in the cells to 'sleep things off'. Photo / File

A man whose alcohol addiction had "overwhelmed him" since the death of his wife about 20 years ago, fell asleep drunk in the back of the Greymouth District Court last week when he appeared for sentence on his fourth drink-driving charge and a drugs charge.

Wayne Grant Schmetz, 56, was eventually jailed for 10 months.

Schmetz had originally been due to be sentenced on Thursday. However, after he had to be revived, having fallen asleep at the back of the courtroom, he was remanded in custody for the night as he was too intoxicated to be sentenced.

On Friday morning, having had a chance to "sleep things off" during a night in the cells, Schemtz was sent to prison.

Earlier this year his sentencing was adjourned in order for him to be given a final chance to have an address assessed by Community Probation to see if it was suitable for a community-based sentence.

However, the court was told by Community Probation that despite the address being suitable, it was not fit for habitation.

"I have seen dog kennels in better shape, it's not suitable," a probation officer said.

Community Probation also said they did not feel that Schmetz would comply with any community-based sentence.

Lawyer Marcus Zintl said that just like another defendant sentenced in the Greymouth court earlier last week, Schmetz was "drinking himself into early grave", especially given that he was suffering from cirrhosis of the liver.

Mr Zintl said his alcoholism had "overwhelmed him since his wife died in the 1990s".

Her death had "tipped him over the edge".

Mr Zintl said it was a "rather sad case" where Schmetz had tried to "blanket the pain with alcohol".

He asked for a starting sentence of between nine and 10 months in prison. The gaps between Schmetz's drink-driving offences was quite large, with his previous offending having been in 1982, 1996 and 2007.

Judge David Saunders said the drink-driving charge, which dated from December 24, 2014, in Christchurch, had been at the "extraordinarily high reading" of 1459mg.

Alongside that, police found 21g of cannabis at Schmetz's property on March 11 last year. Schmetz was also charged with obstructing police on the same date.

Judge Saunders told Schmetz that "alcohol will not really be your salvation".

"It's not conducive to you making old age."

The judge said Schmetz was "not sufficiently motivated to undertake a residential-type programme of the level of intensity that would be required".

Taking his previous offences into account Judge Saunders sentenced Schmetz to a 10-month prison sentence and banned him from driving for 10 months.

- Greymouth Star

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